This beautiful bride popped up in my Facebook feed this morning… she’s home sick from work, and had a sniffly status update that happened to catch my eye. As soon as I saw her name, my brain was flooded with completely random memories of her wedding.
Jenny and Paul got married all the way back in April of 2004 – almost 9 years ago! – in her parents’ backyard in Clinton, NC. I remember how much her dad worked on the backyard to get it just.right, and how much pride he had in the plantings, the gorgeous gazebo that would serve as the ceremony location for his little girl, the beautiful delicate soft pink details that Jenny and her mom worked so hard to put together. I remember I was suffering from the first horrible case of hay fever I’d ever had, and felt like I was going to die of stuffyheaded misery, until Jenny’s fabulous mom slipped me a prescription strength Claritin and a Coke. I remember how one of Jenny’s aunts… or maybe it was a family friend… stepped right into the aisle when Jenny and Paul kissed at the end of the ceremony, and blocked my shot almost completely, and how mad I was in that moment.
I remember how lucky we were that this completely open-air outdoor wedding and reception didn’t get one drop of rain – not ONE DROP, in prime rainy season. I remember how Paul looked at Jenny when she walked down the aisle – how he held back his tears, how his face screwed up, how in that instant I saw what a big teddy bear he was. I remember the sparklers that came out too early, the cake smash, the toddler that kept bringing me fresh picked flowers all day long.
I don’t remember what kind of food was served, or whether there was alcohol. I don’t remember the vows, or whether it was a secular or religious ceremony. Nor do I remember exactly what kind of flowers Jenny carried, or if her shoes were designer. I remember that she looked at Paul like he was her personal hero, and that he held her like the most precious thing he’d ever found. I remember that I felt like family at their wedding, and that at some point I realized my acceptance into their world was more because of how gracious and lovely they are, and less about how awesome I am. I remember thinking that I didn’t have enough time to make gorgeous portraits of the newlyweds, and telling myself to make sure I scheduled another portrait session with them someday soon. And how I never did get around to doing that. And I still remember how the bridal portrait that Jenny chose to display was, and still is, the best bridal portrait I’ve ever made.
One of these days, Jenny and Paul, I’m making good on that promise I made to myself, and I’m taking you two out for more pictures… let’s do the McDonald’s again, along with maybe someplace a little classier, too! And maybe one day soon I’ll get to meet that little girl of yours, and the little boy you’re working on. Meantime, I would love to hear the memories that you have of that day we shared in 2004.